It’s easy to understand why so many people want to adopt a wolf or wolf hybrid. With their magnificent size, thick coats, wit, and intelligence, wolves are fascinating and lovable creatures. But there are also many reasons why wolf hybrids grow increasingly hard to find, with iffy legality in many states. Quite frankly, they make terrible pets! While we may have been friends with wolves first, the domesticated dog is simply built to be man’s best friend.
While this list does recommend purebred dogs, simply due to their inherent characteristics, it’s important to look for either a breed-specific rescue or consider adopting a mixed-breed dog. With so many dogs waiting for their forever homes, consider adopting, not shopping. And keep in mind that mixed dog breeds may provide the experience wolf lovers want. For example, an Anatolian Shepherd crossed with a Husky may provide the body type you want, with an additional dusty coloring that makes your dog look “wilder” than the average Husky.
With that in mind, this list covers wolf-like dogs of all shapes and sizes, so that wolf lovers of almost any lifestyle can find a companion to be content with.
The Siberian Husky is almost always a dream dog for wolf lovers. The Siberian Husky is a powerhouse of a dog. With a characteristic chatty howl that can be heard frequently, this breed certainly isn’t for everyone. Developed as a working dog, the Husky has changed little, even as more people adopt them as companion animals.
Many Husky parents walk five to 10 miles a day with their dog. The breed is also a notorious escape artist. If you want to have one of these gorgeous dogs as your forever companion, be sure you’re physically and emotionally ready for an experience that’s like having an extremely powerful, triathlon-running toddler.
While the Alaskan Malamute may be frequently confused for the Siberian Husky, Mal fans would argue they’re completely different. The Malamute is much larger and stockier than the Husky, and they have a thicker coat, too. But, as another sled-pulling working dog, the Malamute’s energy requirements are similar to the Husky. They pretty much never stop. Looking for a working dog, or love to run for hours a day? The Malamute could be an amazing fit. But for couch potatoes, this breed will simply drive you crazy, even if they are beautiful.
German Shepherd Dog
Long beloved as one of America’s favorite breeds, the German Shepherd is known for their intelligence and unwavering loyalty. The image that pops to mind for most people when thinking of the GSD is the classic tan-and-black pattern. For wolf lovers, there are many color variants that bring a wilder look to the breed. Those looking for a wolf-like pet might seek out a German Shepherd in a silver-and-black, solid-black, or solid-white variant.
German Shepherds are no easy breed, either. Expect to walk a few miles a day here, too. But German Shepherds do tend to mellow out in their later years, while a senior Husky will almost always still crave a run even in their “final stretch.” While highly intelligent, this breed is also very trainable. They can burn off their energy in a variety of constructive ways, like agility and flyball.
For those that find characteristics of all three of the first breeds mentioned here appealing, give the Utonagan a look. This is not a true breed, but a cross between the German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, and Siberian Husky. For lovers of all three breeds, this combination has a more wolf-like appearance along with the best traits of these amazing dogs.
Although the Tamaskan dog breed is wonderful, you’re quite unlikely to find one up for adoption. Why? There are only about 400 Tamaskan dogs in existence, as one of the rarest dog breeds out there. If you’re willing to shell out for this breed, however, they’re known to be wonderful pets. In contrast with most high-energy Arctic breeds with wolf-like appearances, the Tamaskan dog has a more mellow temperament and needs less heavy exercise. Additionally, to the untrained eye, the mottled gray Tamaskan dog looks truly wolf-like.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized breed with a big personality. Known for playful antics and goofy howling, the Elkhound was born to entertain. But, the breed can also make fantastic watchdogs. While this breed needs a lot of exercise, their shorter legs can’t carry them quite as far as a Husky, so you don’t need to worry about daily three-hour hikes. The Elkhound has a surprisingly wolf-like face on a smaller body. They also have an adorable curly tail! This breed makes a great “single-person” dog, as they are incredibly loyal and devoted.
The Shiloh Shepherd may remind you of a few other breeds on this list, and that makes sense. The German Shepherd and Alaskan Malamute both are present in this breed’s ancestry. While similar in appearance especially to the GSD, this breed is larger and is known to have a calmer temperament. While this breed still needs a lot of exercise, you can expect them to be gentler and more willing to listen than an excitable Husky or Malamute.
Alaskan Klee Kai
While this small dog doesn’t bring a lot of height, they are as full of personality. Klee Kais are very similar in appearance to Alaskan sledding breeds like Huskies but have much more manageable exercise requirements. You can expect the Klee Kai to be mostly satisfied after a 40-minute walk, though some play sessions afterward are ideal! While high-energy, the Klee Kai was developed as a companion breed, not a working breed, so they’re a better fit for most day-to-day human routines. However, they still fit best with an experienced dog parent. The Klee Kai is very vocal and emotionally needy. Despite their small size, they rarely make good apartment dwellers.
American Eskimo Dog
A member of the Spitz family, the fluffy American Eskimo Dog has high needs when it comes to grooming, but otherwise, this pup is a pretty laid-back member of the family. Only weighing 10 to 30 pounds, the American Eskimo still manages to look like a little white wolf with their elegant features and thick coat. This breed has a high prey drive, so avoid adopting if you have small pets or cats. However, these dogs tend to get along well with just about everyone else, including kids and other dogs. While all dogs need some exercise, this breed’s requirements are not particularly high, so those without a craving for adventure can still find happiness with this pup at their side.
Although this breed is not as common as the beloved German Shepherd, they’re actually much older. This breed originated in the 1300s in the Czech Republic. They are a great family pet, as they are gentle and loving with kids. They do need a good run every day, and a backyard to play in is ideal, but their energy is manageable, especially with some kids who are willing to participate in some daily sessions of fetch.
The Czechoslovakian Vlcak, also known as the Czech Wolfdog, is easily the most wolf-like of the 10 breeds listed here. This breed was originally developed from dogs that had some wolf hybrid ancestry, so, while the breed is no longer hybridized with wolves, you can expect a wilder temperament. That’s not to say this breed is mean or bad, but rather that their exercise and emotional requirements are just very high. However, for those who are willing to put in the time, this beautiful breed can genuinely be mistaken for a wolf in both size and coloration, and their sharp minds are wolf-like, too.
Why not wolfdogs
Perhaps none of the above dog breeds for wolf lovers feel like a good fit for you. Maybe you’re interested in adopting a wolf, not a dog. But wolfdogs and pure wolves are simply a bad idea as pets. In many places, it’s illegal to be a wolf or wolf hybrid parent unless you are a zoo or similar organization. This means that, if your wolfdog is ever to escape or you can no longer care for them, they will likely face euthanasia by any shelter. Additionally, even a pure wolf that’s captive-raised has a very low chance of survival in the wild. Releasing them is not a kind act, but an act of cruelty.